Maple Leafs choke late third period lead as Canadiens avoid preseason sweep: Maple Leafs postgame
Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
By Joseph Zita2 months ago
For the third straight and final time this preseason, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens played each other, this time in Toronto at Scotiabank Arena.
After sweeping the back-to-back in Montreal over the weekend, the Maple Leafs iced what will likely be close to their opening night lineup next Wednesday against none other than the Montreal Canadiens.
Despite icing their best lineup of the preseason so far, the Maple Leafs, in Maple Leafs fashion, started the game asleep and allowed the Canadiens to jump out to an early 1-0 lead with a power-play goal from Mattias Norlinder.
After Montreal opened the scoring, they continued to apply the pressure, and Toronto could barely gain possession to create chances in the offensive zone. However, while the shots were 6-0 in favour of Montreal, a streaking Noah Gregor finds his way in the offensive zone, floats his team’s first shot towards Allen, and it finds its way in.
It was a nifty pass from Reaves to break the puck out and find Gregor on the rush, but that is a shot Allen probably wants back.
After getting even on the scoreboard, the Maple Leafs slowly started to create more scoring chances. The Bertuzzi-Matthews-Marner line almost got on the board to take the lead, but Nick Suzuki was whistled for hooking, and the Maple Leafs top power-play unit jumped over the boards.
It didn’t take long before they took the lead as John Tavares – doing what he does best – roofs one over Jake Allen’s shoulder from in tight.
He is lethal from around the net.
After the midway point of the period, Toronto eventually evened up the shots 8-8 after getting outshot 7-1 at the start.
With the momentum slowly going in Toronto’s favour after the two goals, Montreal’s Logan Mailloux took a roughing penalty and put the Maple Leafs back on the man advantage. Unfortunately, they couldn’t capitalize and only managed one shot.
The following 20 minutes started a little more even between both teams compared to the first period, but the score remained 2-1 through the first seven minutes.
But another Montreal penalty put Toronto on the power play again with a chance to go up two goals midway through the frame. Like their second power-play, they couldn’t find the back of the net, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Although they didn’t register a single shot on the man advantage, they moved the puck very well and had a couple of their shots either blocked or missing the net.
A little over 10 minutes later, the Maple Leafs did extend their lead with an even-strength goal from Max Domi. What was a passing play at first got broken up, but the puck found its way back to Domi, and he got his second of the preseason.
After going up 3-1 late in the second period, tempers started to flare after a Liljegren hit on Mailloux. Montreal’s Xhekaj took a high sticking penalty on Robertson, and Robertson retaliated by slashing him, which resulted in a massive scrum.
That wouldn’t be the only scrum late in the period. After Kirby Dach scored short-handed to cut the lead in half for the Canadiens, tempers were boiling over as the horn sounded to end the frame.
Following the scrums to end the second period, Sean Monahan took Montreal’s fifth penalty as he slashed Nylander in the offensive zone. However, this power-play for Toronto was probably their worst as they didn’t generate anything.
Just over 10 minutes into the final period, Toronto’s top two lines probably had their best shifts in the offensive zone against a tired Montreal group. The Bertuzzi-Matthews-Marner line started applying the pressure and then changed for the Tavares line, which resulted in the captain getting his second of the night.
However, soon after celebrating the fourth goal for Toronto, it was Montreal’s turn to hem the Maple Leafs in their zone, and they scored from a point shot by Kovacevic to cut the lead in half again.
With the third period winding down and Montreal trying to get the tying goal to force overtime, Josh Anderson – noted Maple Leafs killer – did that and scored with 40 seconds left to tie this game up at four.
Nothing crazy happened in overtime, if you were wondering.
Montreal tied it late in the third to force extra hockey, and within seconds in overtime, Nick Suzuki caps off the comeback to avoid the preseason sweep by the Maple Leafs.
Although it is preseason, choking a late third-period lead is not good, especially against a bottom-five team in the league. Both teams were icing close to their opening night lineups.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are back in action Thursday night at home as they host the Detroit Red Wings. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT on TSN4.
Recent articles from Joseph Zita